Video Review Update : New Playlists and Articles

In lieu of a new video this week (as our videographer/editor is off at GenCon), we’ve sorted our existing videos into themed playlists for easier browsing.

If you’re a fan of classic Euros like Power Grid and Agricola, check out the Strategy Games list for new ideas, while fans of Arkham Horror and Battlestar Galactica can go to Thematic Games for inspiration. Newcomers to the genre and gamers hoping to rope in a friend or partner can use our Gateway Games list as a starting point, and those looking to kick back with something lighter should take a look at Fillers and Party Games.

We’ve also added a special Gateway Games article to our main site, which adds suggestions for where to go next once you’ve played and enjoyed one of the basic games in our list.

We’ll be back with a new video next Monday, and will be updating these playlists and adding new ones as we upload more content. If there’s anything you’d like to see us do to improve the channel and make it easier for you to find the games and videos you want, let us know.

Changes to Local Pickup Hours

One of the biggest benefits of having recently hired another full-time employee is that we can now have staff at the office on a regular basis. As a result, we’ve finally managed to do away with the appointment system for Local Pickups and extend our hours.

From now on, customers wanting to pick up games in person instead of paying shipping costs will be able to do so any time from 12pm – 6pm, Monday to Friday. No appointment is required; simply wait until you’ve received a confirmation email informing you that your order is ready for pickup, and come visit us during those hours to get your games.

Our office is located at 311 Rear W Cordova, in the alleyway between Cordova and Water St.

We’re hoping that these new hours will make it easier for customers who live farther away from Downtown or work irregular hours to make use of the Local Pickup option. Let us know what you think!

New Category: RPGs

One of the biggest pieces of information to come out of the survey we conducted a few months ago was the fact that quite a few of our customers are interested in traditional roleplaying games (RPGs), which we haven’t been carrying many of up to this point. In order to fill this gap, we’ve brought in a bunch of books from a number of roleplay systems and created a new RPG Category on the main site.

The following items are currently available for order, with the majority in-stock and ready to ship immediately:

The Dresden Files

Dresden Files: Our World
Dresden Files: Your Story

Pathfinder:

Pathfinder: 1001 Spells (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: Advanced Player’s Guide
Pathfinder: Bestiary 2
Pathfinder: Core Rulebook
Pathfinder: the Dread Codex – Goblins (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: GameMastery Guide
Pathfinder: GM Screen
Pathfinder: In the Company of Monsters (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: Inner Sea World Guide Campaign Setting
Pathfinder: Night of Frozen Shadows Adventure Path
Pathfinder: Ultimate Combat

Savage Worlds:

Savage Worlds Action & Adventure Decks
Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules
Savage Worlds: Totems of the Dead (Pre-order)
Savage Worlds: Deadlands Player Guide (Pre-order)

Shadowrun:

Shadowrun 4th Edition: 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Arsenal Core Rulebook (revised)
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Attitude Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Corporate Enclaves Core Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Corporate Guide Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Dusk – Dawn of the Artifacts Adventure 1
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Midnight- Dawn of the Artifacts Adventure 2
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Emergence Campaign Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Feral Cities Core Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: A Fistfull of Credsticks Adventure
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Ghost Cartels Campaign
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Vice Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Runner’s Black Book
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Runner’s Toolkit
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Running Wild Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Sixth World Almanac
Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome Anthology
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Spy Games Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Street Legends
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Street Magic Core Rulebook

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Adventurer’s Toolkit
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Set
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Creature Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Creature Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Edge of Night
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Game Master’s Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Game Master’s Toolkit
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Game Master’s Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Gathering Storm
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Omens of War
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Player’s Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Player’s Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Signs of Faith
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Winds of Magic
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Witch’s Song

Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy:

Dark Heresy: Ascension
Dark Heresy: The Black Sepulchre
Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs
Dark Heresy: Church of the Damned
Dark Heresy Core Rulebook
Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema
Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter
Dark Heresy: Dead Stars
Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods
Dark Heresy Game Master’s Kit
Dark Heresy Inquisitor’s Handbook
Dark Heresy Radical’s Handbook

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader:

Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus
Rogue Trader: Citadel of Skulls
Rogue Trader: Edge of the Abyss
Rogue Trader: The Frozen Reaches
Rogue Trader: Into the Storm
Rogue Trader: Lure of the Expanse

This current set of products is meant to serve as a starting point for what will hopefully be a substantial RPG section, and we expect our product list to grow and change to meet our customer’s interests. If there’s a particular book or RPG system that you’d like us to stock, please contact us and we’ll bring it in if we can.

New: Wednesday Sales

In an effort to make room for some of the exciting new stock we have coming in, and to showcase some good games that have not gotten the attention they deserve, Starlit will be holding a small weekly sale every Wednesday!

Each week, we’ll be singling out a few games and marking them down dramatically. They will be available at the deeply discounted price until the following Wednesday (or until stock runs out), at which point any leftover stock will return to its original pricing. We’ve also adjusted how reward points apply to these items, so customers enrolled in our Citadel Citizens Points Reward Program will be able to save even more by spending just a few points.

We’ve added a new “Weekly Sales” button to the website front page and a Wednesday Sale category to make navigation easier, and will be posting sale updates to the blog each week.

Make sure to check out our first batch of sale games, available at a special price until next Wednesday, October 5th:

Cos & Effect and Changes Behind the Scenes

Posting has been relatively slow lately, as we’ve been busy with a number of projects; mostly behind the scenes updates that make running the business easier.  I thought I’d do a quick update on the most recent changes as well as do a quick Con report for Cos & Effect.

Cost & Effect

Cos & Effect is the new cosplay convention in Vancouver after Anime Evolution went defunct.   Overall, for a first year, the convention went well with quite a few attendees.  The fact that it was their first year showed in a few places – e.g. the promised ‘gaming lounge’ was completely inappropriate for gaming with knee-high tables. However, overall it seemed pretty well run and we had few hiccups.  I’m looking forward to next year when I hope the vendors have a dedicated room; increasing overall security for our stock.

Sales-wise, it was significantly lower than Anime Evolution.  It’s partially, I think, due to the fact that the con-attendees trended towards the younger end of the usual AE spectrum, thus reducing their overall budget.  Of course, not being directly related to Anime or cosplay either,  we generally see lower sales at these events. Generally, we do these events for the exposure more than sales so I’m not completely stressed by the lower sales.

Hiring

We’re currently in the midst of attempting to hire again for a part-time position.  Business has picked up sufficiently that I’d like Kaja to focus on some additional duties, which she is unable to do so due to the increase in sales (and added complexity of running both Canada Post & FedEx right now).

It’s been interesting – on our worst day last Friday, we had 8 interviews arranged and only 3 turned up.   We currently have an offer out and will know at the end of this week if it’ll be accepted.  Otherwise, we might just have to bit the bullet and not hire anyone till October where we can attempt to hire someone full-time.

Site Tweaks

You might have noticed a new pair of options to sort games via ‘Bestsellers’ or ‘Reviews’.  It’s a minor tweak, that we think has provided a nice new viewing / sorting option to customers.

Game Reviews

As many of you might have noticed, we requested some guest reviewers last week and had some interested applicants.  I expect to get the first review later this week up, let us know how they do and who you enjoy.  I’m currently planning for 1 review per week, potentially increasing if these reviews get a positive response.

Back-End Changes

We’ve also tweaked our backend design a bit, making it easier and faster to process our orders and to find specific orders.  We’ve also redesigned our PDF invoices so that they’re easier to read to make it easier to note multiple copies of games.

Next on the list is an automatic upload of tracking numbers for Canada Post & FedEx.  This will result in faster shipment reports for customers.

Looking for Guest Reviewers / Bloggers

One of the major requests from customers was that we write more reviews on the blog. However, it’s not something I’ve had time to do recently. On that note, we’d like to put out a call for guest reviewers / bloggers.

If you can (or do) write reviews for other sites, let us know. Reviews would:
– become our property for use on the site and possibly other promotional purposes
– be posted at Starlit Citadel’s blog first (can be re-posted elsewhere, but would be referenced to our site)
– follow our general review format (that means approximately 800 – 1000 words minimum)
– be well written
– open to editing by us

If you are agreeable to the above conditions, we’d offer:
– payment either as Gift Certificates or games at $25 per approved review. Cash might be possible; but would be at a lower value.
– reviewers that take the time to take photos, etc. might receive more (to be negotiated)

This is a test run, so we’re looking at 1; maybe 2 reviewers to start to see how it plays out. Let us know if you’re interested by either commenting here or e-mailing us. Any prior reviews (or sample writing) would be helpful.

August 2011 Newsletter

Site Improvements

There have been a lot of improvements to the site, both on a usability perspective as well as additional options for customers. Here’s a quick list and more details can be found on the blog post:

  • Local Pickup Appointment Calender .
  • 5 Reward Points for Tagging
  • Product Quantities
  • Search for Pages
  • Search for Products Improved with Auto-fill
  • Frequently Bought Together / Customers Who Bought This Also Bought

Site Updates & Conventions

This month, between August 13 – 14, 2011, a new convention is happening in Vancouver called Cos & Effect. It’s mostly a cosplay / steampunk event, but we will be hosting a gaming section right next to our vendor’s booth at their request. Lots of our open board games available to demo & play so drop by if you are in the neighborhood.

The first two of three posts concerning our survey results are out. These posts deal directly with the comments at the end of the survey. We’ll also provide select answers from the survey in our 3rd post later this month.

Lastly, we’ve added a new Google +1 link on the homepage. Please use if you have a Google Account to support us.

Read more on our blog

Upcoming Games

Dixit : Odysey has again been delayed, now we’re being told middle of this month but I’d caution optimism – we’ve had the release date changed on us 4 times already. On other notes, the Twilight Struggle reprint is expected sometime this month as is Rune Age and the next Lord of the Rings Adventure Pack.

More Pre-orders

Survey Results : Answering the Comments

As many of you know, we recently ran a survey and on the last page of the survey, we had a section that was an open comments section.  Many of the requests actually fell into the same subsets, so I thought I’d answer those as best as I could in this blog-post with the changes we’ve already undertaken / will undertake at Starlit Citadel or why not.  Don’t worry if your comments aren’t listed here or were positive, we saw them and will try to meet them if it’s feasible this blog post is to answer the majority comments as best we can :

Site Navigation & Design

Generally, comments on the site fell into the following categories:

  • Improve Search
  • More Product Information (release dates, recommended number of players & BGG ratings)
  • More varied Reward Points
  • More and better customer reviews

Changes:

  • A pair of new search modules that allows searches on information pages and autofills product information
  • Adding a new reward point option for creating tags

Forthcoming:

  • Adding a new ‘Expected release date’ page to the site
  • BGG ratings & rankings (might take a while, this requires coding!)
  • More product pictures.  This project is the next one slated after we finish building out shelves (about 2 weeks or so at current rate of progress)
  • Adding new promotional items for reward points and varied discounts. I’ll be field-testing some with regard to shipping to see if the code holds up.

Limitations

  • Well, sadly we can’t make customers review games, we can only incentivize them to do so.  It certainly seems we have been getting more reviews lately as we grow our customer base, so here’s hoping it continues to do so.
  • We also have an extremely large database of games currently, so updating any single information source (e.g. recommended number of players) takes a lot of time.  About 2-3 weeks of constant work.
  • Any work that requires coding is limited by the expense of working with our developers to create the custom code, so changes like that often occur in batches.

Local Pickups & A Storefront

There were a few areas that were requested with regard to local pickups:

  • easier scheduling
  • extended pickup hours
  • purchasing at the warehouse
  • a physical storefront / better location

Changes:

  • We set up the Google Appointment calendar so customers can schedule their own pick-ups.

Forthcoming:

  • We will undertake a trial run of some extended pick-up hours later this year during the Christmas season. Depending on the response, this might be extended to an on-going basis.

Limitations:

  • Cost.  The location we have is the best trade-off we could find between a convenient location (near the Cambie line & Skytrain) while keeping our costs low.  Sadly, we do have to give up a few things (like a proper entrance) for this trade-off.
  • Our current software is just too slow for order placement at the warehouse itself.  In addition, issues like cash handling and stock management come into play if we allowed this to happen on a regular basis; never-mind the fact that often we have orders that have to be packed before Canada Post / FedEx arrives.

Pricing & Shipping

Not surprisingly, the comments in this area boiled down to:

  • Lower Prices
  • Lower Shipping (or Free Shipping Thresholds)

Forthcoming:

  • In a few weeks, I’ll begin testing out the possibility of using Reward Points to discount shipping (or to reduce the Free Shipping Threshold).
  • We’ll be adding a regular sales special to the site as soon as we figure out how to automate some of the work of running the sales.

Limitations:

  • Capital investment.  Balancing how much of our profits go back into reinvesting and increasing our stock and how much to pay our on-going bills is a constant battle.  We currently have one of the largest selections of games in Canada, and are constantly increasing this selection.  We could lower our investment, and thus lower our prices but our selection would suffer.

Last Thoughts

We had a lot of fun reading all the comments, and while the survey could have been designed better (sorry about that !), we did glean a lot of valuable information.  We will probably be sharing extracts of that later on as well.

In addition, look out for a second post about individual comments that didn’t make the cut here, but that we found interesting.  We’d love to get your feedback on both the comments in this post and there as well.

Ongoing Site Modifications

There have been some improvements to the site, both on a usability perspective as well as additional options for use.  I thought I’d list them out here if you missed them:

Local Pickup Appointment Calender

We now have an appointment calender powered by Google.  If you have a Google Account, you can just log-in to the calender and book your appointment directly if you have a shipment confirmation.  This seems to be working quite well, with less calls to us and customers able to manage the appointments themselves.

Reward Points for Tagging

As a new way to get points, if you log into your account and tag products, for each approved tag, we will give you 5 reward points.  Hopefully, this will make navigating easier for customers.

Survey

Don’t forget we still have our survey running.  It’s a great way to get a 5% off coupon code and your comments and answers gives us a direction for improvements on the site.

Product Quantities

You might also have noticed that we’ve decided to make product quantities in the warehouse live.  We hadn’t done it before due to competitive fears, but have decided that customer convenience trumps our fears.

Search for Pages

We’ve added new functionality on the site to allow searches on our article / FAQ / etc. pages.  This should make it easier for customers to find information about things like what to do with our Reward Points or our Local Pickup policies.

In addition, we’ve added a new module for Search that should make searches better.  If you type the first three letters of your search, a list of related items will appear immediately to auto-complete your search.

Frequently Bought Together / Customers Who Bought This Also Bought

We’ve also finally gotten the automated code installed on the site that provides upsell / cross-sell information direct from our database of actual sales, so hopefully this information is now more useful for customers.

 

Product Quantites & More Points

Played with the site design a bit more today, fixed a few bugs so you should be able to see if a product is out of stock immediately and if something is a pre-order and the number of pre-orders made on a product.

In addition, product quantities are now live.  They should be mostly correct (barring stocking errors) so there should be less overall confusion.

Lastly, we have now added  points for tagging products on the site.  Log into the site via your account, tag a product.  If it’s a tag we have already approved, it’ll automatically be added.  If it’s not, we’ll have to review the tag and approve it before you get your points.  You will get 5 points per tag approved.